The UK’s retailers are currently going through something of a worrying period. Sales are down dramatically year on year, and with Brexit uncertainty still surrounding everything that we do on a daily basis, it is unclear when things will start to pick up.

However, even amidst the doom and gloom, there are particular rays of light that need to be highlighted. And one headline that deserves greater levels of coverage is the fact that many of the UK’s largest retailers are surpassing the carbon emissions targets that they set themselves in the ‘Better Retail, Better World’ commitment, signed in 2005.

‘Better Retail, Better World’

Back in 2005, an array of UK retailers stated that they would make a concerted effort to cut their carbon emissions so as to benefit the environment, and also enhance their own green credentials. 

27 retailers – from ASDA to Aldi, Mothercare to Wilko – signed the pact, promising that by 2020 they would cut the amount of carbon emissions emerging from their overall operations by 25%. At the time this was deemed a tough challenge, but latest results prove that these organisations have actually gone far beyond the targets they set themselves.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently released a document showing that the retailers involved in the pledge have actually managed to cut their carbon output by a huge 36% in the 14 years since they signed the document – a whopping 11% better than the targets they committed to.

Achieving this goal

So how exactly have these brands managed to achieve such impressive results? 

According to the BRC, a ‘large proportion’ of the gains have come from organisations focusing on decarbonising, largely when it comes to refrigeration and logistics. This comes from doing things such as utilising more environmentally-friendly fuels, upgrading equipment, and auditing factories and warehouses to see where energy is being wasted and subsequently remedying it.

Aldi, for example, committed to installing natural refrigerants in all of its stores in 2017 – an investment strategy that cost around. If fully successful, this move should see Aldi cut emissions from its refrigerators by a staggering 99%, though results have not been declared yet.

However, though Aldi is leading the way in this particular area, research has found that many companies – both large and small – are not prioritising the need to cut carbon emissions from refrigerants. A recent report released in Edie found that the vast majority of retailers throughout Europe are failing to install refrigeration systems that are environmentally efficient.

So, while impressive gains have been made, there is still much more to do.